Tabloid journalism and the public sphere: A historical perspective on tabloid journalism

  • Örnebring H
  • Jönsson A
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Abstract

Tabloid journalism is generally considered to be synonymous with bad journalism. This assessment of tabloid journalism is not very productive from a social scientific point of view. The argument of this article is that the journalistic other of tabloid journalism has appeared throughout the history of journalism, and that elements and aspects of journalism defined as ?bad? in its own time in many cases served the public good as well as, if not better than, journalism considered to be more respectable. Tabloid journalism achieves this by positioning itself, in different ways, as an alternative to the issues, forms and audiences of the journalistic mainstream?as an alternative public sphere. By tracking the development of tabloid journalism through history, we want to contribute to the reassessment and revision of the normative standards commonly used to assess journalism that is currently taking place within the field of journalism studies. We do this by first examining what is meant by an alternative public sphere and how it can be conceptualised, then by relating this to the historical development of tabloid journalism. The historical examples are used as a basis for reviewing and revising a key dimension of current criticisms of tabloid journalism. Tabloid journalism is generally considered to be synonymous with bad journalism. This assessment of tabloid journalism is not very productive from a social scientific point of view. The argument of this article is that the journalistic other of tabloid journalism has appeared throughout the history of journalism, and that elements and aspects of journalism defined as ?bad? in its own time in many cases served the public good as well as, if not better than, journalism considered to be more respectable. Tabloid journalism achieves this by positioning itself, in different ways, as an alternative to the issues, forms and audiences of the journalistic mainstream?as an alternative public sphere. By tracking the development of tabloid journalism through history, we want to contribute to the reassessment and revision of the normative standards commonly used to assess journalism that is currently taking place within the field of journalism studies. We do this by first examining what is meant by an alternative public sphere and how it can be conceptualised, then by relating this to the historical development of tabloid journalism. The historical examples are used as a basis for reviewing and revising a key dimension of current criticisms of tabloid journalism.

Author-supplied keywords

  • Alternative Public Spheres
  • Media History, Mass Press
  • Public Sphere
  • Tabloid Journalism

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Authors

  • Henrik Örnebring

  • Anna Maria Jönsson

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